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February 03, 2004

I Saw William Gibson Today

I saw William Gibson today. Here's a few quick comments as I remember them—that is, please don't hold him to my memory of his words.

In my picture, he looks the most normal that he looked the whole time. He's developing quite a hunchback and a turtle-ish profile.

He talked about how he's not really a technical guy, but he is evidently quite interested in the æsthetics of technical things. He said when he was younger that he built in his bedroom a very elaborate Doctor-Frankenstein-ish installation of laboratory glassware, and he did it just because it looked cool. He said he used to build stuff from Heathkit—and probably not correctly—because when it was done, it just looked so cool—particuarly when sitting next to the laboratory glassware.

He spoke quite a bit, and more than he led us to believe he would in the beginning. He said that he doesn't really do "talks"... unlike his friend Bruce Sterling, who doesn't really do dialog. He said in a few hours of hanging out with Bruce one-on-one, that Bruce will do a couple of talks with a little Q&A thrown on the end.

Of course, he was asked what he's working on now, and he said that he's been reading a lot of U.S. history, but he's not sure what will come of that. He said he'd been thinking a lot about how one might be elected for proclaiming oneself "conservative" and then go about enacting policies—perhaps quite radical policies—with the reassurance, "It's okay—I'm a conservative. We've always done it this way." While a constituency's ability to judge this is highly dependent on its knowledge of history.

He talked a little about writing. He said that of all his books, including Neuromancer, he got about three-quarters of the way done and proclaimed to his wife that the book was no good—perhaps even the worst ever written. He said he almost threw Neuromancer in the fire. He said he doesn't quite trust authors who are wholly confident and upbeat about books they've just written.

He talked about his writing coming from the unconscious in a painful process that cannot be called up on demand. He said he doesn't know how books will end, and this is why he doesn't like the way that stories are pitched to Hollywood, which won't pay for anything unless they know (and like) how it ends.

Posted by Gary at February 3, 2004 06:37 PM | TrackBack
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